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Marshall Rosenberg - Nonviolent Communication

What I want in my life is compassion, a flow between myself and others based on a mutual giving from the heart. Marshall Rosenberg.


Four basic steps of Nonviolent Communication include:

1) Observation - look at what is actually happening in a situation without first coming to a judgment or evaluation of the other person. A lot of us default to criticizing the other person when the real work is to look at ourselves first and to ask ourselves, "Why is this a big deal to me right now?"

2) Feeling - giving space to what we feel in relation to what we are observing. Are we hurt, scared, joyful, amused, irritated? This is very counter-cultural to not just go to problem solving, but to actually give a voice to what the inner child in ourselves is going through.

3) Needs - vocalizing our needs that are connected to the feelings we have identified. I think it is useful too to let both people speak to what their needs are in any given situation. This part is often glossed over and each person is left feeling alone in their pain etc.

4) Request - making a request to the other person of what we are wanting from the other person that would enrich our lives or make life better for us. The focus here is on concrete actions that we can both focus on to enrichen both of our lives.


Conflict in general is something we all have different narratives with from our own growing up years. Here are some other important categories to pay attention to in conflict:

1) Naming things out of sadness. "I feel sad that we aren't close or connecting well." Give space to the feeling and pay attention to how that neutralizes a situation.

2) Ask yourself "what is the thing I don't want to say right now?" Being vulnerable and vocalizing it (from nonjudgment) can shift the direction of the conflict.

3) Own just the part we can own in it (not the whole conflict but our contribution). It isn't all or nothing and each person contributes something to conflict.

4) Tell the other person the thing in you that you aren't proud of and that you are working on. Tell them that you aren't proud of this in yourself and trying to work on it.

5) Paying attention to when we all default to criticism/judgment and naming it with the other person.

6) Empathize with the feeling of the other person (especially when they approach in an attacking way). Rephrase what the deeper feeling/unmet desire is in the other person back to them.

7) Taking a break and coming back to the conversation after we have time to calm down. The "calm" state has to be focused on and especially when it goes away. If either person is triggered, it becomes a short/one-sided conversation and space is needed to process before resuming the conversation.


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